Thursday, December 29, 2011

What I have been up to

I love to share my experience of places I enjoyed with my love ones.  Working life had not made it possible.  Now is the time for me to retrace those places.  My first stop immediately after retirement is Perlis.  Would you believe that?  I love the landscape of the state in toto and I love the unharried life of the place.  I love the flat 'as-far-as-the-eye-can-see' green serene padi fields interrupted by the limestone hills piercing obtrusively.  I love listening to the local dialect.

Infact my love with Perlis started when I was still in school.  It was the school term holidays and instead of taking the warrant ticket for home I took one that directed me to Penang.  That was in 1970 and the island was still a free-port.  I bought my first bottle of perfume then (sweet rose scented, can't recall the brand) and an RM50 silver Citizen watch (costing me a whole month of pocket money).  I was lodging at a friend's and after a few days stay at her place we decided to venture to Perlis.  I can't recall should the trip had been pre-arranged, but I remember taking a bus right after the ferry terminal and found ourselves Perlis bound.  There was a gathering of friends.  I don't know how it was done (this is prior to the house phone era, what more the mobile).  I remember putting up at another friend's place.  We later cycled to a friend's dusun.  Would you believe a whole bunch of us girls in floral pants doing just that!  Hey, it was 1970 and floral bell-bottomed pants were the vogue.  I remember a fruit feast at the dusun and topped-up by a dip in a cool prescient, crystal clear stream.  That's my sweet memory of Perlis.

Later in my working life I had several opportunity to be in Perlis.  One was when a friend was the State Head for MARDI and I was there to visit one of our Harumanis manggo rehabilitation pilot project and the Gula Perlis project.  He was using his car and we started the morning filling the tank at the petrol station.  He put in a RM30 worth and we are supposed to be traveling the whole state.  I was alarmed and relayed my fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, his car drained of gas.  His comment, "This is Perlis Wan, RM30 will be enough to cover the whole state.  Don't you worry".  Reminds me of the Perlis train and football jokes.  This is a contrast when travelling in Sarawak where distance is related in number of hours!

I was once in Perlis when we were on a family holiday.  We were more of discovering Kedah and my eldest wanted to touch (literally) Bukit Kayu Hitam.  We drove all the way to BKH just for that.  She went to school in Johore Bahru and wanted so much to do the Peninsular tip-to-tip.  Mission accomplished we then deviated to Perlis.

I was lately in Perlis for our Hybrid Rice Research Station opening.  This indeed is a milestone in Malaysia rice research and our reach towards food security.  The 2008 rice shortage scare had the message imprinted on many policy makers and the establishment of this research station is one of those action plan put to reality.

More of my Perlis love later.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

At long last, I am retired

I am officially retired on 10 December 2011 with 9 Dec being my last day in office.  In my mind I have long retired before that date.  I had been on 4 day week since about middle of the year trying to finish off the balance of my annual leave.  I took three weeks off towards the end of my days in office.  I was even on leave on the 9th but made it to office to see and bade goodbyes to my office mates.  At my request there was no pompous 'official' final 'punch-out' but made it just a normal day out for me.  I dropped by the CEO's office to bade my goodbye.  I e-mailed friends and SMS others to say my goodbyes.

Spent a total of two days clearing-up my former room for the new arrival that is to take over my place.  Had a few staff helping me shredding materials of the past which I consider of no importance and to save my replacement of having to go over unimportant materials.  Anything of importance and my working documents stay in the computer for quick access.  Had my handing over notes ready and deposited it with my immediate boss for the next-in-line to follow through.  Deposited the Toshiba laptop and Apple iPad2 I had been using with the general office.

Arah and Ina on destruction derby mode. 

Thanks to them both, years of accumulated waste got to see their last days.
Managed to collect 16 bags full.  Baba Black Sheep sure shuddered at my collection!

Goodbye Work, Hello Retirement.......

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Another Trip

Life is so full of uncertainties.  Barely a day after our trip back from the East Coast we had a call that our besan was admitted to the Bukit Mertajam Hospital ICU.  We made a quick decision to visit her leaving the house at about 8:30 am, Saturday.  The target was to be at the hospital by the lunchtime visiting hours.  We made good the target arriving at about 12:15 pm.  Good time indeed for a first timer to the township.  The hospital security staff were helpful, literally taking us to the unit amidst the twist and turn route.

She was restless in spite of being heavily sedated and with wires and oxygen supply for assisted breathing.  On being told that she can hear us we gave our salam and mentioned her of our arrival.  She paused from her restlessness and was then much more calm.  The attending nurse updated us of her condition.  The sedation was more to allow her to rest.  Turns out that she collapsed due to high blood pressure and hypoglycemic condition.  They, however, did a CT scan to eliminate cranial blood clotting as the reason for her condition.

We gave a call to the husband telling him of our arrival.  He was then busy with a wedding kenduri of a brother's son in the village.  The earlier plan was for us to meet-up at the hospital.  It was then that we decide to drop over, thus another search.  The place is Kg. Kubang Ulu, Penanti.  After several stops asking for directions, we made it to Kg. Kubang Ulu.  Penanti signboard was more like a railway station's.  To find a place having a village kenduri is easy, just pick one with lots of cars by the road.

Taking a well-deserved break at BM Hospital grounds.

Alas, by the time we arrived our besan has left for the hospital.  It seemed that the hospital called for some personal supplies which he dutifully delivered.  Not knowing anybody at the kenduri we waited for his return.  Our waiting choice was a big shady tree by the road shoulder.  Not for long though for our besan was soon with us and we were ushered to the kenduri.  It was all beef dishes and with our hypertension to check, it was not a feast that we were to enjoy.  We soon took leave from the kenduri host to go to our besan's house.  Another first for us.  Soon it was time for us to leave.

The changing landscape as we drove up north
The exquisite waterfall at the Selangor-Perak border
Limestone hill outcrops
Flat padi fields

Initially our plan was to spend the night at either Bukit Mertajam or Seberang Jaya.  However, with much daylight left we decided to put up at Taiping.  Incidentally, the day's paper has a pullout about the township places of interest.  I fancy the famous Taiping Lake Gardens while the better half was talking about the famed mee-udang (salespitched: selak udang baru nampak mee!).  Our youngest who is with us is OK with both choices but specifically mentioned that there not be another zoo trip.  We were at Taiping some years back for the zoo night safari.  She must have seen enough then.

The Seri Malaysia Hotel Taiping

With no prior reservations and being the school holidays we were lucky to have a room at the Taiping Sri Malaysia Hotel.  Except for an early evening drive at the Lake Gardens, there is not much night life in Taiping, we soon seeked our beds.  After a tiring whole day drive, the bed was indeed beckoning.

Being so close to the famous Bukit Larut (aka Maxwell Hills), we planned to go up the hill.  With the ticket costing RM6/person we were driven up using the four-wheel drive Land Rover.  The 30 minute uphill drive was indeed scary, with 72 hair-pin corners and turns, a simple slide would mean several meters down the ravine.  But the sight from the hill station was bewitching.  We can see Taiping town right across to the Straits of Malacca.  My daughter was asking whether it is possible to see Sumatera.  No, it is not.  

The Bukit Larut foothill
We have company for the uphill ride
The welcome at the hill station
Moss growing on the roof, sign of high humidity
Looking far out into the Straits of Malacca
Pine with hanging Spanish mosses
Our very own azeleas in bloom
Tumbling downhill

Looks like there is minimal maintenance of the hill station.  Capitalising on the mild cool temperatures and abundant rainfall (this place is known to register the highest annual rainfall for Peninsular Malaysia), fresh landscaping could do wonders to the place.  As  it is, facilities are rather run-down.  Was telling my daughter that I would readily grab a job at this place should there be one on offer.  I just love cool mountain climate.  We spend about 2 hrs here before taking the Land Rover for the 20 minute downhill trip.  A teenager with us on the downhill trip was engrossed with a computer game.  What a waste of the trip.

Downhill we stop over for a durian feast.  Not a real feast for it was just two fruits between the three of us.  The taste was just heavenly.  Since durian is a big no no in the car, we took out our folded chairs and consumed the durian in-situ.  Sorry, for the goodness of the durian, I forgot all about the camera.  Finally, a lap around the Lake Gardens before taking a turn into the PLUS Highway for our way back home. 

The iconic hanging branches at the Taiping Lake Gardens
The lake
Larut Hills from the Taiping Lake Gardens.

One thing about this trip up north, the food at the R&Rs are just 'bleah'.  We can't help but brought our own food for the trip.  The south and east coast R&Rs serve better tasting dishes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Adam Update

With my eyes able to focus, I can now stare back at the camera (28/11).

All bundled up at the start of the Penang trip to
meet my  paternal gramps for the first time.
Grandma is in no position to travel (1/12).

Awake and enjoying the rolls of the ride.
I know my hair's a mess.  Ibu should know better.
I need to look smart for my first meeting with my gramps.

Simple beauty

We were driving along the Jeli - Gerik Highway leaving my father's place at Panglima Bayu at around 5:50 pm.  Rather late for a trip back to Kajang.  But my youngest had enough of our balik kampung trip and wanted to be back in her own place.  We relented though I'd prefer to have a longer time with my father.

It was a long day for us all, leaving our Terengganu house at 9 am.  Stopped for a sumptuous nasi kerabu ayam percik breakfast at a roadside stall at Kg. Gong Pak Jin.  It is a place just after UMT.  We found this place by chance really a few years back.  The name stucked as we were parked very close to the village signage.  We were then on a similar Terengganu - Kelantan trip after a few nights stay in Terengganu.

Arriving in Rantau Panjang at about noon, we slipped into the steaming hot market for a quick purchase of local delicacies, the keropok dip being a must.  Incidentally we bought our keropok in Terengganu from the 007 keropok stall located adjacent to the Kuala Ibai floating mosque traffic light junction.  The stall was strongly recommended by a relative and we were hooked ever since.

This market should be built with a higher roof for better ventilation. 
You can leave your dough to be baked in here!

We stopped at a brother's for lunch.  His abode is atop his shop lot, HWH Entreprise, located just across the Rantau Panjang market.  The stop was more to meet our 6 year old nephew, Wan Mohammad Luqman Al-Hakim, to congratulate him for his first placement in the national PASTI azan competition.  We bought him some school supplies befitting his Year 1 entry in 2012.  Then the trip to my father's place.  A short visit it was but with a promise of a longer trip later.  There will be three weddings that we'll be attending in early 2012.  A retiree will have all the time at hand to commit to family matters.


Hakim receiving his award (Azan Category) from Dato' Sri Ir. Nizar
at the 2011 Alam Ria PASTI held in Perak recently.

The results extracted from pastikelate.blogspot page:

2.    AZAN


Being late in the evening, and with nothing much to do I took a few shots using the handphone.  The outcome surprised us all.  We did enjoy the forest landscape, the cloud formation and the turning skyline.  It is amazing that the sky was so blue at dusk.

The clouds deserve a second look.

The evening lights between the pillars were blinding.

The skyline turning crimson with the sunset.

The camera detected the darkening sky as blue.
A sight to behold.

The glow of the car's headlights agaist the dark environment.
The sky remaining blue.

The contrast at one of the Gerik's traffic junctions.

In this long journey we amused ourselves with name similarities.

Adam has a supermarket to his name (Tanah Merah).

Aiman wondered aloud at this bundle store
that carries her name (Rantau Panjang).

Let's surprise Abang Li with this lot (Rantau Panjang).

My husband inherits this shoplot (Rantau Panjang) from
his late mother.  Neither he nor the tenant ever met.
Would we be getting a free cuppa should we stop by?